CHAPTER 3: CURRICULUM FACTORS: A THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
The purpose of Chapter 2 was to provide the contextual framework of the study. Historical overview of the learner performance, dropout rates and underperformance in schools internationally as well as in South Africa were discussed. Curriculum challenges experienced in South Africa was presented. Effectiveness of promotion requirements and manipulation of results were analysed. Strategies to improve learner performance internationally and in South Africa were also discussed.
In Chapter 3 the theoretical framework of the study reviewing a collection of interrelated theories is presented. It also identified how curriculum theory can effectively guide curriculum implementation. The theoretical framework of this study is based on Freire’s curriculum theory, critical theory and Tyler’s theory. The literature study provides the conceptual framework covering concepts specifically, curriculum, curriculum factors and curriculum change.
A theoretical framework is a particular way of addressing a topic (Matthews & Ross, 2010:34). This means that a theoretical framework provides a base which will be used to interpret the empirical findings of the study. In addition, it supports the rationale for the study, the problem statement, the purpose, the significance and the research questions (Grant & Osanloo, 2014:12). The main purpose of this theoretical framework is to guide the interpretation of the empirical research regarding the key generic curriculum factors affecting Grade 12 learner performance. Figure 3.1 was followed to explain the role of theory in research.
Figure 3.1 shows the research process that begins with the identification of the research questions. Based on the research questions, the framework is chosen. A literature review is conducted and empirical research supports the theory. Research findings would be a disorganised collection of data in the absence of theories because the researcher would not have overarching frameworks to which the data could be linked (Schunk, 2008:3). Theory can help design research questions, guide the selection of relevant data, interpret the data and propose explanations of the underlying causes of observed phenomena (Reeves, Mathieus, Kuper & Hodges, 2008:633). It provides the rationale for the study, defines the aim of the study and helps to address the research questions (Stewart & Klein, 2015:1).
Theory without experience is misguided because theory and practice affect one another (Schunk, 2008:23).
In addition, this theoretical framework looked at five core activities in curriculum development as a point of departure to guide curriculum implementers. The core activities in curriculum development include curriculum analysis, curriculum design, curriculum development, curriculum implementation and curriculum evaluation. Curriculum development is essential because it focuses on the improvement and innovation of education (Thijs & Van den Akker, 2009:15). However, the key role of developing theory on curriculum factors affecting Grade 12 learner performance is essential as it permits deeper understanding of data and highlights the meaning of empirical data. Multiple theories give varying perspectives on the same issue; thus, each researcher must decide which lens to use to build an argument, establish the context of the problem and explain findings (Grant & Osanloo, 2014:24).
The theoretical framework which was applied to guide this study in order to analyse data was a combination of three curriculum theories. In this study, I tried to understand how can curriculum theory effectively guide curriculum implementers? The theoretical framework is constituted from the theoretical insights on Freire’s theory, Critical theory and Tyler’s theory. Freire’s theory gives people the opportunity to develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves (Freire, 1972:28). Critical theory is linked with Freire’s model because both are against the banking model which is against oppression of learners and empowers teachers and learners to communicate constantly to improve teaching and learning. Tyler was one of the curriculum thinkers who made it his aim to simplify and systematise the complex task of curriculum development by providing them with a clear step-by-step plan (Thijs & Van den Akker, 2009:16).
These curriculum theories are subsequently presented in the next section.
Freire’s curriculum theory
Freire’s theory is based on the pedagogy of the oppressed which deals with the relationship between the teacher, learner and society.
Freire’s theory rests on value assumptions of equality for all people, their right to knowledge and culture and their right to criticise their situation and act upon it (Nyirenda, 1996:6). In the same vein, the constitution of South Africa states that one of its aim is to heal the division of the past and establish society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights (DBE, 2011a:3). His theory started from a deep love for and humility before poor and oppressed people and a respect for common sense (State University, 2017:1). He asserts that love encourages commitment, embodies struggle and pushes it beyond its source, therefore it is the oxygen of revolution (Ornstein, Pajak & Ornstein, 2011:29). Teaching is an act of love and teachers must love or have a passion for teaching (Swart, 2009:16).
In South Africa in 1948, the Nationalist Party (NP) was elected to power with a strong apartheid agenda which included the system of white supremacy aiming at providing the labour market with unskilled black workers (Du Plooy, Henkeman & Nyoka, 2014:3). Schools were divided into English and Afrikaans and learners were also separated according to race. The segregation of learners was extended to incorporate segregation on the basis of disability, schools that accommodated white disabled learners were mostly white while the few schools for black disabled learners were systematically under-resourced (DBE, 2009:9). The government was spending nine times more on each white learner than it spent on a black learner and black education were characterised by a shortage of schools, a lack of qualified teachers, high learner-teacher ratios and an inferior curriculum (StatSA, 2011:1). This was against all that Freire’s theory stood for.
Freire argues that curriculum should provide learners with opportunities for growth using their own experiences as cornerstone in their development (Darwish, 2009:8). He describes the national curriculum authorising teachers to instruct and impose ideas on learners with prescribed knowledge (Saleh, 2013:91). This is what Bantu Education was all about: imposing ideas on learners as well as on teachers. These challenged us to take responsibility to build a humane and caring society for all South Africans (DBE, 2009:11). In 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) took over from the NP and formulated a policy based on democratisation, equalisation, desegregation and multicultural education (Steyn, et al., 2011:23). The curriculum was built on healing the divisions of the past, improving the quality of life for all citizens and laying the foundation of an open society in which the government is based on the will of people equally protected by law (DBE, 2009:iii).
A school curriculum is intended to provide learners with the knowledge and skills required to lead successful lives (Yasmin, Rafiq & Ashraf, 2013:1). The minimum standards of knowledge and skills that should be achieved at each grade are specified (DBE, 2011a:4). Learners are empowered because they can exercise their voices (Swart, 2009:15). Learners should be able to transform their lived experiences into knowledge and use the acquired 51 knowledge as a process to unveil new knowledge (Macedo, 2005:19). All experiences including those of the teacher must be interrogated and the teacher is not neutral but intervenes in the educational situation in order to help the learners to learn to think critically (State University, 2017:1).
Freire’s theory is against the banking model. The banking model refers to when education becomes simply the act of depositing knowledge in which the teacher is the depositor and the learners receive, memorise, repeat and store the deposits (Freire, 1972:21). This model was basically supportive of the apartheid era where teachers were told what to do and learners had to adapt without questioning anything. Only a slice of truth was presented to learners and learners did not construct knowledge based on their own expectations or even their own experiences (Swart, 2009:4). Freire criticises the banking model of education, which he labels as bourgeois (Nyirenda, 1996:13). In this conception of education, the teacher teaches and the learners are taught; the teacher know everything and the learners knows nothing; the teacher thinks and the learners are thought about; the teacher talks and the learners listen; the teacher disciplines and the learners are disciplined; the teacher chooses and enforces his/her choice and the learners comply; and the teacher is the subject of the learning process while the pupils are mere objects (Freire, 1972:22). As opposed to the banking model, Freire proposed a dialogical problem-posing method of education which invites the oppressed to explore their reality as a problem to the transformed (State University, 2017:2).
He emphasises that education should be a dialogue rather than a one-way lecture (Rugut & Osman, 2013:23). Dialogue is a means to develop a better comprehension about the object of knowledge (Macedo, 2005:12). Dialogue encourages learners to know how to think. Through dialogue, teachers and learners become jointly responsible (Freire, 1972:26). The acquired knowledge is simply reflected back by the learner in the same manner in which it was accumulated and thus encourage the learner to apply critical thinking (Swart, 2009:13). Active and critical learning approaches to learning are encouraged rather than rote and uncritical learning of given truths (DBE, 2011b:4). Dialogue empowers learners to become aware of injustices and inequalities in their lives (Darwish, 2009:54). If learners become aware of injustices and inequalities, they will strive to work hard to redress the imbalances of the past and thus improve their performance. Learners need to be informed about their rights to education but responsibilities must also be critically emphasised. Dialogue improves relationships in the classroom and the school (Alvarez, 2014:341). People in a dialogue are able to hear differences offered by others and each participant makes a unique contribution (Metcalfe & Game, 2015:7). Dialogue establishes patterns of interactions and a frame of investigation while encouraging learners to test their own understanding (Simon Fraser University, 2006:6). In this study, teachers interacted through focus group interviews to identify their perceptions, experiences and challenges with regard to the CAPS and curriculum factors affecting learner performance were identified. Freire’s work has been very influential in critical education and he is responsible for several notions of critical theory (Randall & Allen-Brown, 1996:6). Freire’s theory is linked with critical theory which is radically historicist and attempts to reconstruct education (Kellner, 2003:7). It is, therefore, necessary to discuss critical theory.
Critical theory is focused on the history, the development and practice of education and educational theorizing (Ward, 2015:1). It focuses on interrelated issues of technology, politics and social change (Freisen, 2008:1). It involves creating what education could be in order to change the society (Kellner, 2003:7). Curriculum in South Africa lays the foundation for a democratic and open society in which every citizen is protected by law (DBE, 2011a:3). Horkheimer (1972 as cited in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2005:2) states that it must explain what is wrong with current social reality, identify the factors to change it and provide both clear norms for criticism and achievable practical goals for social transformation. Curriculum factors affecting learner performance were discussed through focus group interviews and the advantages and the disadvantages of the CAPS were also identified (see Chapter 5, subsections 5.3.2 and 5.3.3).
Many learners experience barriers to learning or drop out primarily because of the inability of the system to recognise and accommodate the diverse range of learning needs typically through curricula, assessment, learning materials and instructional methodologies (DBE, 2009:24). Critical theories are concerned with equity and justice in relation to issues such as race, socio-economic status, religion and sexuality (Reeves, et al., 2008:633). This means all these values should be taken into consideration when designing a new curriculum and all learners from different backgrounds should be catered for.
Critical theory sees education as a tool used by oppressors along the lines of race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation (Oudshoorn, 2009:7). Critical teachers experience rage caused by the unjust circumstances that surround the educational experiences of the poor and marginalised people (Williams, 2006:1). Bantu Education teachers were oppressed and had to follow bureaucracy to perform their duties and were not allowed to think critically.
Critical theory generates alternative knowledge forms specifically those shaped by social interests that are fundamental to a democracy (Freisen, 2008:8). It promotes an ideology of education as an instrument of social transformation and as a means of attaining social cultural and economic equity (Ward, 2015:1). In 1997, C2005 was introduced to overcome the curricular divisions of the past (DBE, 2011a:3) (see Chapter 2, subsection 2.9.2).
C2005 was based on the principle of social transformation by ensuring that educational imbalances of the past are redressed and that equal opportunities are provided for all sections of the population (DBE, 2011a:4). Critical theory encourages teachers to be involved in curriculum design and implementation because it emphasises democracy, equity and justice. After all, teachers are the ones in the forefront and are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum. Their perceptions, challenges and experiences regarding the CAPS could be used in order to improve teaching and learning. Without the teachers, curriculum factors affecting learner performance cannot be identified. The HODs are the monitors of the curriculum so their input could be critical to the curriculum change.
Critical theory encourages teacher professional development to help teachers to make the necessary transition to a more viable pedagogical practice (Ward, 2015:7). Thorough and regular professional development will ensure effective teaching and learning. Teachers are expected to formulate activities that will attract learner’s interest (Young, 1992:20). They must use different approaches to understand educational issues as they relate to race (Randall & Allen-Brown, 1996:9). Critical theory leads participants to develop a discourse of social transformation and emancipation beyond the walls of the classroom and the boundaries of the school to broader and cultural concerns (Abrams, 2004:7).
It is constructed by a vision of better reality which overcomes the present oppressive reality (Young, 1992:13). In this vein, it aims to transform and understand society as a whole. It digs beneath the surface of social life with the aim of uncovering the true understanding of how the world works (Crossman, 2017:1). Modern curricula theorists believe that the curriculum should be learner-centred, addressing the needs and interests of the learners (Alvior, 2014a:1). NCS Grades R-12 was introduced with the aim of equipping learners, irrespective of socio-economic background, race, gender, or intellectual ability with knowledge, skills and values necessary for self-fulfillment and meaningful participation in society as citizens of a free country (DBE, 2011a:3) (Chapter 2, subsection 2.9.3). All teaching methods should actively involve learners if they are to construct meanings and if much learning is to take place (Ahmad, 2016:78).
The third theory, Tyler’s theory, is presented next.
Tyler’s model positions the school curriculum as a tool for improving community life where the needs and problems of the social environment are the main focus of the curriculum (Maheshwar, 2015:3). Curriculum focuses on changing issues such as technology (Freire, 1972:1). In 1995, the South African government began the process of developing a new curriculum for the school system based on the growth and development of knowledge and technology (DoE, 2009:2). In 2015, some public schools in Gauteng were supplied with smart boards as the department’s e-learning initiative to ensure paperless classrooms. Teachers have been given laptops and learners received tablets (Krige, 2015:n.p.). Our learners are increasingly involved with technology and this could improve their interest in teaching and learning, although thorough monitoring is required at home and at school to ensure that learners are using it for educational purposes. Educational technology has become essential in learning and teaching but the consequences of introducing it into the classroom do not seem to have been considered to any great extent (Randall & Allen-Brown, 1996:1).
The old models of education are no longer appropriate. DBE (2011a:5) states that our curriculum aims to produce learners that are able to use technology effectively and critically, showing responsibility towards the environment and the health of others. However, Ward (2015:8) argues that our curriculum is not preparing learners with skills they will need to confront the difficulties they will face in life, and that learning material needs to be improved. Learners are now using technology to create subjects group chats and help one another with problems they experience. These chats sometimes even include the teacher who will monitor that the group chat is only subject-related. Technology can improve learners’ social lives as well which, in turn, improves achievement in schools. I believe that if the tablets are only being given to Grade 12 learners, it could take time for them to adapt, and it would probably be better to introduce them in Grade 10. Tyler’s model brings about significant changes in the learners’ patterns of behaviour (Tyler, 1949:44).
Curriculum planning is the phase of curriculum development that allows the curriculum developer to make decisions and take actions to establish the plan that teachers and learners will carry out (Oliva, 2009:22). Tyler (2013:1) further states that in developing any curriculum plan of instruction, the following questions must be answered.
i) What educational purposes should the school seek to attain?
Before we can determine the purpose of the school, we must first determine the educational purpose of the curriculum. The purpose of the curriculum is to equip learners with knowledge, skills, values and attitude that will enable them to participate meaningfully in society; provide access to higher education; facilitate the transition of learners from education institutions to the workplace; and provide employers with a sufficient estimation of a learner’s competencies (UN, 2013:61). To put concepts into practice, teachers need resources and materials to facilitate their daily work (Beacco, Byram, Cavalli, Coste, Cuenat, Goulier & Panthier, 2015:93). Teachers must devote more time to the setting up and formulation of objectives (Tyler, 1949:62).
Many teachers should focus on teaching rather than first considering what the learner will need in order to achieve the learning goals (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005:15). Learning will then be chosen with an emphasis on the prescribed learning content followed by an evaluative task to see whether the planned objectives have been achieved (Ewing, 2013:22). Tyler recommends that curriculum planners must identify general objectives by gathering data from learners’ contemporary lives outside the school and align the information gathered with the subject matter (Oliva, 2009:128). He further states that we need to find out what kinds of interests learners have, what problems they encounter and what purposes they have in mind (Maheshwari, 2015:4). Schools are expected to determine their goals, and each subject teacher must then determine their objectives by setting targets for their subject, and the learners must determine what they are hoping to achieve for each task.
Once the first step of setting objectives is achieved, the selection and organisation of learning experiences as the means of achieving outcomes begins.
ii) What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to attain these purposes?
For objectives to be attained, a learner must have learning experiences (Tyler, 1949:65). Learning experiences involve the interaction between the learner and the external conditions in the environment to which he responds (Tyler, 1949:18). Learning experiences should be meaningful and engaging so that learners become aware that they are learning because they are the ones who control what they learn (Ewing, 2013:26). Learning involves a demonstration of what one can do with those subjects, not just a regurgitation of knowledge (Tyler, 1949, as cited in Maheshwari, 2015:3). When designing learning experiences, we 56 must also take the needs of diverse learners into consideration (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005:14).
Learning experiences are assessed primarily in terms of teacher’s ability to implement the curriculum, and secondly in terms of learners’ ability to learn from the curriculum (Schiro, 2013:54). In order to achieve the set targets, the teacher must organise learning activities which cater for all learners with different learning abilities. For example, the DBE has provided SSIP on Saturdays and during school holidays. From the researcher’s experience, the residential camps and walk-in camps are also organised to cater for learners’ capabilities. The schools are also expected to organise their own interventions after school.
Once a learning experience has taken place, the organisation of learning experiences commence.
iii) How can these educational experiences be effectively organised?
In 2017, the focus was on underachieving schools, schools with novice Grade 12 teachers and schools with high number of progressed learners (DBE, 2017b:4). The DBE also targeted interventions for high achievers to enhance the quality of their performance in the final examinations (ibid.). According to the researcher, there is too much focus on Grade 12 learners and other grades are being neglected. SSIP should not only be for Grade 12 learners because Grade 12 learning starts in Grade 10. CAPS provides a progression pathway from Grade 10 to Grade 12 based on learners’ needs; therefore, to acquire the basics in Grade 10 in order to excel in Grade 12.
There is a need to slow down the pace of curriculum changes in order to allow the teachers, universities and national and provincial departments of education to work together towards a common understanding of what needs to be taught and learned (UMALUSI, 2014:8). Authorities must stop changing curriculum at will (Thivhavhudzi, 2012:10). Stability is needed in the South African curriculum by involving all stakeholders in developing an effective curriculum. The DBE could focus more on other factors impacting effective teaching and learning than merely focusing on curriculum change. Politicians should leave education to educational experts. According to the researcher, in South Africa it seems that each president appoints his own Minister of Basic Education, and each minister introduces a new curriculum. For example, President Mandela appointed Mr Bhengu who introduced the Senior Certificate; Mr Mbeki appointed Professor Asmal who introduced C2005; Mr Mbeki then appointed Mrs Pandor who introduced the NCS, and Mr Zuma split the department into higher and basic education, and appointed Mrs Motshekga as the minister of basic education who introduced the CAPS.
All the different school systems that have improved significantly have done so primarily because they attracted more talented people to become teachers, they developed these teachers into better instructors and ensured that these instructors deliver consistently for every learner (McKinsey, 2007:60). Lovemore (2015:2) suggests that all teachers of Grades 1 to 6 and of Grade 9 should be required to write the Annual National Assessment test to measure their literacy and numeracy level and all Grade 12 teachers must write the examination paper their 2014 learners had to write as a competency test. If learners in primary school are placed with low performing teachers for several years in a row, it has negative impact on the learners which is largely irreversible (McKinsey, 2007:13).
iv) How can we determine whether these purposes are being attained?
In Kenya, inadequate teacher training and support were the major reason why curriculum implementation was not successful (Omondi, 2014:18). In Nigeria, poor curriculum implementation was caused by the gap between policy makers and policy implementers and some facilitators lack the needed skills to ensure that the curriculum function effectively (Arthur & Athanasius, 2017:1). A study conducted in Thailand revealed that teachers who were trained had more knowledge and understanding (Omondi, 2014:19).
Teachers are the drivers of curriculum implementation because they adopt and implement the ideas and aspirations of the designers (Murava, 2017:3). Unless teachers are properly trained with a highly developed professional ethics, curriculum implementation will never be effective (Seale, 2012:4). Involving them will make them feel part of the curriculum development process and helps them own the process (Makunja, 2016:35).
According to Tyler (1949, as cited in Maheshwari, 2015:5), this question can be answered by matching initial expectations with the outcomes achieved by the learner. The school, the teachers and the learners will then assess whether the set objectives were achieved. It is imperative to look at the aim of the CAPS to determine whether these purposes are being attained. One of the aims of the CAPS identified according to Chapter 2, subsection 2.9.4 was to ensure that the learners enter higher education. Table 3.1 is evident that serious interventions are needed in order to improve the number of Grade 12 learners achieving university entrance.
According to Table 3.1, approximately 30% of Grade 12 learners are able to go to university, which is an indication that South African curriculum is failing to provide learners access to higher education. Approximately 70-80% of Grade 12 each year are unable to go to university. Another question that needs to be answered is what these learners are doing after completing Grade 12. This is an indication that Grade 12 learner performance is a problem in South Africa. South Africa seems to be focusing on quantity and not on quality because the promotion requirements do not allow learners entry to university.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION BY STUDENT
DECLARATION BY SUPERVISOR
ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
CHAPTER 1: ORIENTATION
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH
1.3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.4 KEY CONCEPTS
1.5 PROBLEM STATEMENT AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.6 AIM AND OBJECTIVES
1.7 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.8 MEASURES FOR TRUSTWORTHINESS
1.9 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.10 CHAPTERS DIVISION
1.11 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 2: LEARNER PERFORMANCE AND CURRICULUM CHALLENGES: A CONTEXTUAL FRAMEWORK
2.2 AN INTERNATIONAL OVERVIEW OF LEARNER PERFORMANCE
2.3 LEARNER PERFORMANCE IN SOUTH AFRICA
2.4 DROPOUT RATES
2.5 UNDERPERFORMING SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN SOUTH AFRICA
2.6 PROMOTION REQUIREMENTS IN SOUTH AFRICAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
2.7 MANIPULATION OF RESULTS IN SOUTH AFRICAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
2.8 STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE GRADE 12 LEARNER PERFORMANCE
2.9 CURRICULUM CHALLENGES EXPERIENCED IN SOUTH AFRICA
2.10 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3: CURRICULUM FACTORS: A THEORETICAL AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
3.2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
3.3 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
3.5 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
4.2 RATIONALE FOR EMPIRICAL RESEARCH
4.3 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.4 RESEARCH TECHNIQUES
4.5 MEASURES FOR TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.6 ETHICAL ISSUES
4.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5: DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
5.2 RESEARCH PROCESS
5.3 DATA ANALYSIS
5.4 DATA INTERPRETATION
5.5 CONCLUDING REMARKS
5.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 6: SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.2 SUMMARY OF THE RESEARCH FINDINGS
6.3 RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS
6.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.6 CONCLUDING REMARKS
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT